During the holiday season, many people are consumed with celebrations, shopping, and wrapping up year-end business. Inattention plus the holiday spirit equals a prime time for scammers to make their move. So-called charity scams involve getting you to give your money to a "worthy cause" that's actually just a scammer's pocket. To avoid getting taken, follow these tips:
Stay Alert – Holiday Charity Scams
- Thoroughly check out every organization you're considering giving a donation. Go online to see if it has a website. Better yet, go to Give.org to see if the cause is recognized by the Better Business Bureau. Also, run a Google search on the organization's name plus the word "scam."
- Listen carefully. Scammers use organization names that are close to those of actual charities to make you think you'd be giving to a legitimate organization.
- Ask questions. If you're being called by a representative of the organization, ask about the caller's relationship to the cause. Some organizations use professional fundraisers to solicit for them. Find out what percentage of your donation goes to the actual charity.
- Don't give in. Phony charities often pressure you to give money immediately without having a chance to do research or think it through. Don't give in to pressure tactics. Instead, take the information and do your own checking.
- Beware of the phony thank-you note. Some unscrupulous actors will send you a thank-you note, making it look like you've given to an organization before. They think this action will make you more likely to give "again." Don't fall for it. Check your records to make sure they match.
- Don't make it easy for them. Never give out personal or financial information such as your Social Security number, birthdate, or bank account number and only make payments with a credit card or check.
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